June 15, 2009

Coating converts light to solar cells' sweet spot

Coat silicon solar cells with tiny amounts of the stuff that shines red in CRT screens, and you can boost the cells' power output and lower the cost the electricity you get from the cells.

The plastic coating has trace amounts -- less than 1/100 of a percent -- of molecules that include europium, which is used as the red phosphor in cathode ray tubes. The coating converts violet and ultraviolet light to red light, which is more efficiently converted to electricity by crystalline silicon solar cells.

The coating -- two layers containing different forms of the europium molecules -- boosts the power output of commercial crystalline silicon solar cells by 2.8 percent. The increased manufacturing cost of the coating is offset by the increased efficiency. The electricity the cells produce is 1.3 percent less expensive than the electricity from cells without the coating.

Research paper:
Encapsulating Eu3+ complex doped layers to improve Si-based solar cell efficiency
Progress in Photovoltaics, published online May 14, 2009

Researchers' contact:
Dario Narducci

Related stories and briefs:
Material tunes light for solar cells -- related research

Back to ERN June 15, 2009



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